September 27, 2020

By ASHLEY WELFORD-COSTELLOE

A good home must be made, not bought, says author Joyce Maynard. This couldn’t be more true for those who volunteer their time building homes for Habitat for Humanity.
During study week, a group of 26 students and three faculty members from the architecture construction engineering technology program travelled to New Orleans to participate in a Habitat for Humanity build. They were building an entire house for victims of Hurricane Katrina. The project was located in the Carrollton Ward, one of the areas hardest hit by the hurricane.
Randall Hadley, a professor in the program, said they didn’t get to meet the new home owners because they were never on site as they had already fulfilled the sweat equity requirement. He said home owners are required to put in hundreds of hours of sweat equity. This means that, in addition to a down payment and monthly mortgage payments, home owners must invest hundreds of hours of their own labour into building their house as well as the houses of others. The money from the home owners’ mortgage payments is used by Habitat for Humanity to build houses for other people.
Students also had the opportunity to tour the Make It Right development in the Lower 9th Ward. This is a project of actor Brad Pitt, who after visiting the area in the aftermath of Katrina, was compelled to help correct the situation. He dedicated himself to rebuilding 150 homes and providing them at a reasonable cost to former neighbourhood residents.
“There was a lot of interesting and innovative designs in that area that had been and were in the process of being built,” said Sean Cook, a third-year student in the program.
Students also got a chance to explore the city. On the second day they were treated to a swamp tour where they got to see alligators and other wildlife. But that wasn’t all. Cook said the most memorable part of the trip was when he and his classmates toured downtown Bourbon Street during Mardi Gras which Hadley described as “something you have to experience.”
On the first day of the build, the Conestoga team challenged the record for the fastest construction of a complete floor. Unfortunately, they missed by 20 minutes.
“We aren’t sure which team beat us,” said Cook. “We didn’t know we were close to a record until the end of the day.”
By the time they left, the students couldn’t have been more satisfied.
“We were all very proud of the work we did,” said Cook. “We were fortunate to be a part of a great experience.”